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Thoughts on the final day of 2008 and looking towards 2009

Well 2008 ended with a ginormous thud.  Both the men's basketball and football teams proved to be competitive in short stretches but overall were overmatched.  What a negative way to end the year.  Here are some quick thoughts on yesterday's games and what we can look forward to in 2009...

Football - 21-42 loss to Kansas in Insight Bowl

  • The defense gave up 42 points (97 in their last two games) and I'll get to them in a second but the offense is frustrating.  With two years as his body of work in Minnesota I have generally been happy with offensive coordinator, Mike Dunbar's game plans.  The offense usually comes out moving the ball well early in games.  But nearly every game the offense stalls when the opposing defense makes adjustments.  A good offseason project would be to see points scored, yards gained and first downs earned by quarter over the last two years.  14 points on the first two possessions and 7 in the next nine.

    The offensive line deserves some of the blame but play calling and adjustments to the original game plan have to be part of it.
  • It was great to finally see David Pittman involved in the game plan.  That is what I was hoping to see for the last 12 games.  A couple catches and a 75 yard pass to start the game is the X-factor that was sold to us.
  • The defense will be very interesting next year.  Overall they need to get much better at every position.  I like many of the guys returning but they all need to get stronger and need to  improve if we want improve our Bowl game status.  I have more complete thoughts on this but I'll save it for a more comprehensive 2008 review of the team.

Basketball - 12 point loss to Michigan State

  • PJS has a good preview so I won't belabor his points.
  • Michigan State ran a play in their half court set killed us over and over again.  It was frustrating that we were unable to adjust to it, but at the same time it is an effective play that puts the defense in a bad position.

    Michigan State puts three guys on the left side of the court, a big man to set a screen for the shooter who has half of the floor to work with.  We consistently went ball side of the screen which allowed Lucas to flare and be wide open for threes.  You can't switch the screen or have your big man help too much or the MSU big is wide open in the lane.  If you trail the screen then Lucas curls it and either has a jumper at the top of the key or drives the lane. 

    MSU ran this over and over.  If you watch the BTN highlights you'll see three plays with Lucas shooting an open three, all of them were set up by this
  • Kalin Lucas is REALLY good, he might be my favorite Big Ten player to watch.  He does not turn the ball over, is a good shooter and is really quick.  Al Nolen is a very good on the ball defender who did fine yesterday when he wasn't getting hit on the pick and roll, but Lucas is fun to watch.

What do we have to look forward to in 2009

  • TCF STADIUM - unless the basketball team makes a Final Four run or something crazy like that, this will undoubtedly  be the highlight of 2009.  I cannot wait.
  • Brewster's recruiting class - a nice New Year's present would be Michael Carter and Bryce McNeal verbally committing to Minnesota at Saturday's US Army All-American game.  But early February we will find out what this class will look like.
  • The Big Ten Season and the NCAA Tournament - Tubby's boys should be fun to watch through the conference season and hopefully get themselves a ticket into the NCAA tournament in March.
  • A toucher non-conference schedule - Syracuse, Cal and Air Force are all upgrades to what we saw in 2008.  Overall the schedule will be tougher and wins may be harder to come by, but we should be more prepared for some Big Ten games.
  • Royce White and Rodney Williams - this is a long ways off but next year's hoops team promises to be more athletic and more explosive.
  • Eric Decker's senior season - He is in position to break all Minnesota receiving records and get himself into the top 5 of Big Ten receivers for yards and receptions.
  • Sam Maresh - coming back from open heart surgery to play LB in the Big Ten!

What else am I missing?  What are you looking forward to in 2009?